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Get ready for a photo dump: I updated you guys a while ago about the beginning of the vintage camper demo, but the full video breakdown of the entire process is finally ready to share with you today!
In case you missed it, my boyfriend and I are working on the remodel of a 1946 Spartan Manor travel trailer we call Ruby’s Revival. It’s a side project (that has gotten a lot of work lately!) in addition to my house updates, so I hope you’ll have fun following along!
When I last left off about the camper, Kyle had been working on the exterior polishing. As for my part, I had just begun the big tear-out of some of the bigger pieces: cabinets, countertops, miscellaneous storage compartments, etc. And while that certainly is INCREDIBLY exciting, there was lots more left yet to go… and to learn!
But now I can finally say we’re totally finished (and even starting to focus on the rebuild!). For most of the beginning of the year, our focus has been on Ruby (and thus the slowdown of home projects). As you’ll see me say in the video (full YouTube series episodes are all available here), there were three main things I wanted to keep in mind as I tore through everything I could get my gloved hands on:
- Templates: curved areas around the camper will be harder to cut for and duplicate, so keeping the parts that fit the curved sides and roof were worth holding on to.
- Hardware: I don’t know for sure if I’ll reuse most of the hardware that I found in the camper. But I’ve gotten requests from followers to hang on to it because some of it might be hard to replace, such as the original cabinet clasps. I’d love to work some of the existing pulls and vintage details back into the final design, so I’ll hold onto it until I make those choices. And if I don’t wind up using it after all, I can sell them to other restorers looking for these parts (this entire renovation has already reached the thousands in terms of cost, so selling items makes sense).
- Salvaged wood: lots of the original framing was too damaged by wood rot or unknown chemicals from the campers past lives’ to save, but some of the interior pieces are still in decent shape. I thought it might be a great opportunity to sell art, keychains, turned pens, etc. made from this leftover wood for folks who are enjoying this journey and a way to tie in my woodworking skills (or expand them!). Money earned from this process will go directly back into the project, so I think it’s a win-win for this that want a real-life, tangible Ruby keepsake. Other items like mugs, stickers, tees, etc might also be in the works (I have hand-drawn some things and shared previews on Instagram, and folks seem to be willing to support the project in this way, so I think it could be fun). I don’t know if people will ACTUALLY do it when the time comes (a voice in my head is like “no, no one will buy your art/handmade things”), but I figure I won’t know unless I try!
(Summary video below — but for the full version, go check out the YouTube series)
help me reach 25k!
In addition to getting all the remaining structural pieces out, I also had to remove paneling and insulation. It was a nasty, dusty job that required masks, gloves, long sleeves, etc. At a certain point, I no longer cared about getting every last screw out and just started tearing away. I did most of the demo work by myself while Kyle worked on the exterior polishing, but he helped with the part I hated most (all the screws!). You’ll also see some of my pregnant belly in the video (with hero pose, naturally) since the entire demo took place both before and after Baby Ellis.
For those that will ask — from the research I’ve done, it appears that it did not contain asbestos, which was my biggest worry when I saw insulation I didn’t recognize. I did check before I started demo AT ALL, but I still stopped when I saw it and rechecked to be sure before I continued touching anything. After it was gone, though, there were still hours more work of removing all those miscellaneous screws (75+ years of various repairs, un-repairs, repaired-repairs, and functionality changes is a LOT of rust and screw types scattered all over). I’ve never been so frustrated at changing bits, but once you’ve had to go over the same spot overhead with like 5 different bit changes with both a drill AND screwdrivers to make sure you got all the different types, it gets tiresome.
Not long after we’d cleaned out the nastiest parts, members of our family offered to allow us to park Ruby in their driveway (we haven’t been able to do the same due to restrictions at the county level — people often assume it’s an HOA issue but we don’t have one!). This has saved us on the monthly fee of parking it at a lot near the lake, which is partly why we’ve been able to pick up the pace a little more on progress (it’s a lot easier to pop by to see family for a weekend’s worth of progress than to go to a paid lot where we don’t have easy power/water hookup… and bathrooms!).
I hated it, and yet I loved it. What I love most about demo is not just the physical workout (who doesn’t love a little cathartic hammer-swinging?) but the potential of everything left to come.
A full sense of realized sweat and effort is right there. When things were finally cleared out, I was no longer burdened by clutter and could begin to see all the things I wanted to work on next:
- Replacing/fixing/repairing the windows (we discovered that THREE of them slide open, what?! I’m working on these over on IG! We got the back window open too!)
- Tearing out the plywood floor and possibly the subfloor (spoiler: we decided to push ahead with that, which means this is now a “shell off” renovation where we’ll actually unbolt the shell from the frame and possibly have to support the shell with stick framing during that process (DOUBLE GULP). P.S. I also recently learned a shell off renovation is called “the full monty” which I have NOT stopped laughing about…
- Learning how to rivet! (I’ll start with the corroded wheel wells since this area will be hidden, which means we can learn proper technique by the time we start doing patches on the exterior)
- Patching and waterproofing holes and removing rust stains from the exterior
- THE FLOOR PLAN!!!
It’s all SO exciting. We have really dragged our feet over the last couple of years because priority lists are hard when you have jobs/baby/house renovations/landscaping etc. on top of a side project. But since deciding to dedicate these spring months to Ruby, progress really sped up and I feel like we’ve finally turned that precious corner where instead of ripping things OUT, I’m finally going to start putting things back IN. Now, if only things could stay in stock long enough for us to get enough to start installing! Here’s a little preview of what’s next!
More coming VERY soon, including what (we think) our entire renovation list looks like from this point forward and the floor plan (and heck, why not turn that into a helpful download for camper renovator folks too).